Here is a quick photo I took of a pair of new pieces patiently waiting to be fired. After the initial firing to 1100 Celsius they will be smoothed and polished. Then they are fired to the final temperature of approximately 1250 Celsius, this thoroughly melts the porcelain, achieving a high level of translucency and mechanical strength.
A great image of my work that has been on display all summer in the George Fry Gallery in Fredericton.
Here are close-ups of the piece I'm working on right now. I laid out all the folds last night, now I'm starting to build up enough porcelain to take it off the mold without collapsing. This is a slow process, as each layer of porcelain must be applied very thin, so it doesn't obscure details or crack. At this point I've probably sunk about an hour and a half into the piece, there are many hours still required.
I really enjoyed putting the folds into this piece. I am always striving to give each piece a sense of movement and weightlessness. Working in the round can be somewhat tricky, I have to ensure it is visually pleasing and balanced from all angles. Furthermore, I have a great deal of difficulty making these pieces appear natural, it takes a great deal of time to get all the folds just right. That bit of trouble may be caused by the perfectionist in me.
After a month of inactivity(and unpacking) I have managed to set up a little work-space and have started making my first piece since graduation.
In the image on the left you can see my initial set-up, I've got my slump mold set up and my porcelain mixed. To make a piece I first cut out a piece of fabric from my giant bolt of muslin, which is an affordable, loose weaved cotton textile. This piece is then dipped into porcelain slip that has been blended with paper-pulp. The paper-pulp helps to reduce cracking as the piece drys.
Once the fabric has been soaked in porcelain, and I'm sure the porcelain has been worked deep into the fabrics weave, I drape it out onto mold. At this point I lay out all the folds and work out what the piece will look like. This can be very messy.
From here I will have to build up enough porcelain that the piece can be taken off the mold and support itself. That will be covered in a later post.
I finally made it into the George Fry Gallery with a half-decent camera. Here is my display in the graduate programs exhibition titled Narrative, which is currently on display. I'm very happy with how these turned out, I was a little worried they would not stand out against the white background, but I think it really worked. This year has been dominated by my departure from functional pottery. This has been a very exciting process, and I cannot wait to see what I produce this summer!
My porcelain draperies represent the culmination of my four-year exploration and obsession with porcelain. Ever since I first touched porcelain clay I have been totally enthralled, no other material compares to it. Its beauty when fired to the point of translucency serves to highlight the materials malleability, smooth texture and ability to capture fine details. I’ve come to realize that the renaissance era stone sculptures made by Bernini I saw in Rome have heavily inspired this work. In particular I have felt drawn to the excruciating detailed and realistic draperies often found on his work. I seek to capture the same sense of weightlessness and fluid movement seen in his sculpture within my vessel forms. However, instead of looking to fine dresses for inspiration I have been emulating the plastic bag. To further the illusion of weightlessness and fluidity I have fired my vessels to the porcelain clay's melting point, thus achieving a high level of translucency. Wishing to emphasize the beauty of my form and surface I have left my pieces unglazed; this leaves my vessels looking more like fine marble or alabaster.